By Antonio J. Fernández (Consorcio Fernando de los Ríos)

Digital technologies are massively being used in schools and society, leading a transforming way of learning and studying not only inside but outside university. These days we have incredible resources which allow us to obtain knowledge and skills that go beyond the typical education: MOOCs, Youtube, social media, Google and other digital technologies encouraged what has been called “Non formal learning”.

Based on data, many cite the statistic that 80% of individual’s learning is informal while the other 20% is formal (The True) (Amount).

But digital society is not only at school or university, we do have information society in our pocket. In fact, life without a computer, a tablet or a mobile phone has become unimaginable to many, and more people than ever have access to internet. We have available electronic tools and mobile devices everywhere; social networks and online learning platforms are increasingly becoming popular among young people.


As a result, people tend to assume that if they own a digital device, they have access to internet and know how to use certain applications, and then they already have all the necessary competencies for personal and professional life. This is the reason why many researchers have demonstrated that young people have digital skills’ gaps that are just as wide as in the rest of society.

Nowadays there are some methods to measure the level of digital competences from citizenship such as Europass CV digital competence, but research demonstrated that self-assessment is a poor measure of digital competences if it won’t be complemented by a diploma or a certificate as evidence of the claimed competence level. Certification defines competences and knowledge that individuals need, validates course quality, and motivates participants to successfully complete the training. However, the “digital era in the pocket” requires new certification ways in brand new formats where the information should be always available and easy to share within a digital environment.

The importance of making visible and worth learning which takes place outside formal education and training institutions is increasing, appearing new solutions every day; one of each is an Open Badges recognition system. Badges can build upon each other, joining together to tell the full story of a learner’s skills and achievements. With Open Badges, each badge is full of information. It has data built in that links it back to the issuer, the criteria it was issued under, and evidence verifying the credential. Open Badges enables learners to take their badges everywhere with them. Users now have an easy and comprehensive way to collect their badges in a single backpack, and display their skills and achievements on social networking profiles, job sites, their websites and more.

(See more about Mozilla Open Badges in )


ECDL carried out digital literacy studies in Europe to find out the real levels of digital skills in their countries. Austria, Denmark, Finland, Germany and Switzerland were investigated. The data showed that gaps exist between self-perceived and actual levels of digital skills and even young people, who are sometimes falsely assumed to be ‘digital natives’, usually underperform in practical tests. In 2017, a replication of the study in India and Singapore revealed that the digital skills gaps identified in Europe are also prominent in these countries. This paper provides an overview of the main findings of the six studies, discusses their implications for digital skills development on national and international levels, and argues that any self-assessment tool should always be complemented by a diploma or a certificate as evidence of the competence level. Regarding diplomas, in the new Digital Era we will need new digital certification since paper will remain as a thing of the past! For example, with Pathways for Employ platform we will have all the certifications available in every digital device. Welcome to the path towards new digital skills’ future, welcome to!


Everything will be digital in the new learning era

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